During an intensive wine-tasting tour or beer crawl, I generally try to avoid any roaming police, just in case. So when an actual sheriff is pouring the beer samples at a wee brewery in rural Oregon, I’m not sure how many I should pound back before hopping into the car. Especially when he tells me one ale I’m sipping packs a 10%-alcohol wallop.
Welcome to Dragon’s Gate, an artisanal farmhouse brewery, on the edge of a field, just across the Washington border near Walla Walla. It’s owned by a lovely couple—Adam, still working as a local sheriff, and Jennifer, tending her equestrian horses.
But their underlying passion is producing fabulous, Belgian-style ales with an edge. Like adding hibiscus flowers or blueberries to different brews or lacing a chocolate stout with cacao nibs.
Being true to their art is obviously more important than pandering to the market. They handcraft their unfiltered, unpasteurized ales in 20-gallon batches, using imported grains and hops grown on their 10-acre farm.
Where can you find it? For now, at the odd Walla Walla outlet or maybe a local Walla Walla Sweets baseball game. Otherwise, you’ll have to navigate out to the farm on Saturday afternoons for a tasting or to pick up a growler or a few big corked bottles, like the exceptional Belgian IPA.
And don’t worry about the sheriff’s cruiser parked out front. Its owner will be happy to pour you a cold one. Or two. Okay, maybe just one.
Dragon’s Gate Brewery
52288 Sunquist Road, Milton-Freewater, Oregon
Saturday noon-5 pm